Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Five Things about Mad Max and the MRM...

Probably saying something offensive
My Facebook status has lost its shit over a review of Mad Max by a website called Return of Kings. Apparently, the reboot of Mel Gibson's franchise is a big old feminist plot to make men weak, or something. 

But is there more to this than an argument between feminists and a fringe group of masculine menaces? Probably not.

The entire controversy works as advertising for a blockbuster film.
Clearly a still for feminist propaganda
Posing as a feminist response to a bizarre reading of Mad Max, the viral articles laughing at/critiquing the review are a really excellent advert for the film. Every time it turns up on my feed, there are comments beneath from feminists, saying that they are now interested in going to see a film that they had discounted as a macho fight-fest.

Without accepting for a moment that there is a conspiracy going on, it does seem to be the ideal way of marketing Mad Max to an untapped audience. And with feminism a hot topic just now, what better way to fill the coffers than appear to make a film that appeals to feminists?

There are worse thing on Return of Kings than this review.

I spent some time browsing their site. The review of Mad Max is considerably less disturbing than articles that appear to defend the right to rape, present women as decorative, disposal but barely human and celebrate a macho culture of power and wealth. 

Of course, I could have been indoctrinated by feminists, but Return of Kings is worrying: the behaviour they encourage is likely to cause all sorts of social problems, if anyone took it seriously. I am not sure whether it is a parody.

However, if the internet wants to lose its shit, try reading their pieces about 'the first feminist serial killer' or 'how to spot a slut'. 

Return of Kings is a small corner of the net.
I might be too generous here, but I'd say that the writers on the site are an extreme branch of the Men's Rights Movement. I am not even sure if they count as MRAs. They are more interested in putting women 'on lock-down' (something about chastity and loyalty), working out and boasting. They have a libertarian, possibly objectivist bias. 

I assume that MRAs do have a more liberal wing, and are interested less in the right to boast about their game than legal matters. Even if such the liberal Men's Rights Activist is a unicorn, I am sure Return of Kings is a minority interest. I often watch MRA videos on YouTube, and I had not heard them mentioned.

Sure, that's not exhaustive research, but a snapshot. 

It uses Cultural Criticism.
This is the best part. Usually, when an article examines the subtext of a film, or video-game, the writer is a feminist. Tropes Against Women (other examples are available) deconstructs the gender bias with aplomb. 

MRAs usually make whinging videos in response, generally expressing scepticism about any cultural critique. 

But this is different: Return of Kings is imitating the strategy of feminisms which attempt to expose the bias of media. It is an acceptance that this kind of discussion is valid. 

And this means that there is now common ground for a chat. Maybe even dialectical conversation...

The Controversy is manufactured.
The fact that it is an effective advertising campaign. The fact that there are other issues to get outraged about that have been ignored. The fact that it is such a rare example of culture criticism within the whole masculinist culture. It totally plays into big business' agenda. 

I'm not worried about that - nothing wrong with feminism being part of the mainstream. Still... 

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